Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 4, pp 913–917 | Cite as

Conserving Southeast Asia’s imperiled biodiversity: scientific, management, and policy challenges

  • Lian Pin Koh
  • Navjot S. Sodhi
Original Paper


Southeast Asia was almost entirely covered by rainforest 8,000 years ago. Today, this region is experiencing the highest relative rates of deforestation and forest degradation in the humid tropics. Every year, millions of hectares of tropical forests are destroyed and degraded. Given the rapid rate of deforestation and the high concentration of endemic species in the region, Southeast Asia could lose 13–42% of local populations by the turn of the next century, at least 50% of which could represent global species extinction. In this Special Issue, we discuss the uniqueness of Southeast Asian biodiversity, drivers of forest destruction, threats to the region’s unique ecosystems and taxa, and key conservation challenges to provide a broad-based review of the science, management and policy issues concerning biodiversity conservation. Overall, we highlight the need for an interdisciplinary and multi-pronged strategy requiring all major stakeholders to work together to achieve the ultimate goal of reconciling biodiversity conservation and human well-being in the region.


Conservation Extinction Deforestation Climate change Wildlife trade Livelihoods 



We thank Professor David Hawksworth for agreeing to publish this Special Issue, and all contributing authors. Folks at Springer, especially M.I.A. Cubillan were extremely helpful during the editorial process. L.P.K. is supported by an ETH Fellowship and the Swiss National Science Foundation.


  1. Antons C (2010) The role of traditional knowledge and access to genetic resources in biodiversity conservation in Southeast Asia. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-010-9816-y Google Scholar
  2. Berry NJ, Phillips OL, Lewis SL, Hill JK, Edwards DP, Tawatao NB, Ahmad N, Magintan D, Khen CV, Maryati M, Ong RC, Hamer KC (2010). The high value of logged tropical forests: lessons from northern Borneo. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-010-9779-z Google Scholar
  3. Bickford D, Isakandar D, Barlian A (2008) A lungless frog discovered on Borneo. Curr Biol 18:R374–R375CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Bickford D, Howard SD, Ng DJJ, Sheridan JA (2010) Impacts of climate change on the amphibians and reptiles of Southeast Asia. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-010-9782-4 Google Scholar
  5. Brook BW, Sodhi NS, Ng PKL (2003) Catastrophic extinctions follow deforestation in Singapore. Nature 424:420–423CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Brook BW, Sodhi NS, Bradshaw CJA (2008) Synergies among extinction drivers under global change. Trends Ecol Evol 23:453–460CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Clements R, Rayan DM, Zafir AWA, Venkataraman A, Alfred R, Payne J, Ambu L, Sharma DSK (2010) Trio under threat: can we secure the future of rhinos, elephants and tigers in Malaysia? Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-009-9775-3 Google Scholar
  8. Giam X, Ng TH, Yap VB, Tan HTW (2010) The extent of undiscovered species in Southeast Asia. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-010-9792-2 Google Scholar
  9. Hansen MC, Stehman SV, Potapov PV, Loveland TR, Townshend JRG, DeFries RS, Pittman KW, Arunarwati B, Stolle F, Steininger MK, Carroll M, DiMiceli C (2008) Humid tropical forest clearing from 2000 to 2005 quantified by using multitemporal and multiresolution remotely sensed data. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 105:9439–9444CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Kettle C (2010) Ecological considerations for using dipterocarps for restoration of lowland rainforest in Southeast Asia. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-009-9772-6 Google Scholar
  11. Koh LP, Ghazoul J (2008) Biofuels, biodiversity, and people: understanding the conflicts and finding opportunities. Biol Conserv 141:2450–2460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Koh LP, Wilcove DS (2007) Cashing in palm oil for conservation. Nature 448:993–994CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Koh LP, Wilcove DS (2008) Is oil palm agriculture really destroying biodiversity? Conserv Lett 1:60–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Koh LP, Wilcove DS (2009) Oil palm: disinformation enables deforestation. Trends Ecol Evol 24:67–68CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Koh LP, Levang P, Ghazoul J (2009) Designer landscapes for sustainable biofuels. Trends Ecol Evol 24:431–438CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. Laumonier Y, Uryu Y, Stüwe M, Budiman A, Setiabudi B, Hadian O (2010) Eco-floristic sectors and deforestation threats in Sumatra: identifying new conservation area network priorities for ecosystem-based land use planning. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-010-9784-2 Google Scholar
  17. Linkie M, Rood E, Smith RJ (2010) Modelling the effectiveness of enforcement strategies for avoiding tropical deforestation in Kerinci Seblat National Park, Sumatra. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-009-9754-8 Google Scholar
  18. Myers N, Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, da Fonseca GAB, Kent J (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403:853–858CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Nijman V (2010) An overview of international wildlife trade from Southeast Asia. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-009-9758-4 Google Scholar
  20. Peh KS-H (2010) Invasive species in Southeast Asia: the knowledge so far. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-009-9755-7 Google Scholar
  21. Rist L, Feintrenie L, Levang P (2010) The livelihood impacts of oil palm: smallholders in Indonesia. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-010-9815-z Google Scholar
  22. Sodhi NS, Brook BW (2006) Southeast Asia biodiversity in crisis. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  23. Sodhi NS, Koh LP, Brook BW, Ng PKL (2004) Southeast Asian biodiversity: an impending disaster. Trends Ecol Evol 19:654–660CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Sodhi NS, Acciaioli G, Erb M, Tan AK-J (2008) Biodiversity and human livelihoods in protected areas: case studies from the Malay Archipelago. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  25. Sodhi NS, Posa MRC, Lee TM, Bickford D, Koh LP, Brook BW (2010a) The state and conservation of Southeast Asian biodiversity. Biodivers Conserv 19:317–328CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sodhi NS, Lee TM, Sekercioglu CH, Webb EL, Prawiradilaga DM, Lohman DL, Pierce NE, Diesmos AC, Rao M, Ehrlich PR (2010b) Local people value environmental services provided by forested parks. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-009-9745-9 Google Scholar
  27. Taylor D (2010) Biomass burning, humans and climate change in Southeast Asia. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-009-9756-6 Google Scholar
  28. Todd PA, Ong X, Chou LM (2010) Impacts of pollution on marine life in Southeast Asia. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-010-9778-0 Google Scholar
  29. Webb CO, Slik JWF, Triono T (2010) Biodiversity inventory and informatics in Southeast Asia. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-010-9817-x Google Scholar
  30. Wilcove DS, Koh LP (2010) Addressing the threats to biodiversity from oil-palm agriculture. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-009-9760-x Google Scholar
  31. Woodruff DS (2010) Biogeography and conservation in Southeast Asia: how 2.7 million years of repeated environmental fluctuations affect today’s patterns and the future of the remaining refugial-phase biodiversity. Biodivers Conserv. doi: 10.1007/s10531-010-9783-3 Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Terrestrial Ecosystems, ETH ZürichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesNational University of SingaporeKent RidgeSingapore

Personalised recommendations